A 2005 study released by Families and Work Institute, Overwork in America: When the Way We Work Becomes Too Much, reports that one in three American employees are chronically overworked, while 54 percent have felt overwhelmed at some time in the past month by how much work they had to complete. The study of more than 1,000 wage and salaried employees identifies for the first time why being overworked and feeling overwhelmed have become so pervasive in the American workplace.
1) Rekindle your passion. Think about what ignites your passion. Reflect on those times that you’ve burned the brightest – busy and excited, yet peaceful and harmonious.
2) Learn how to orchestrate life’s many demands. Learn how to spot when you have reached your limit and need to slow down; learn to prioritize, delegate and set boundaries. Learn and practice strategies that help you to “work smarter, not harder,” for example, use the O.H.I.O. technique – only handle it once in reference to mail, e-mails, bills, etc.
3) Focus on what you do best and stick with it. Too often, people waste years trying to get good at what they’re bad at instead of trying to do what they’re good at. Don’t try to do too much, or you will do nothing well.
4) Get ahead by letting go . . . letting go is a good goal too. Families tend to add activities, but rarely subtract. When you bring in something new, throw out something old. Get rid of people and projects that drain you, while cultivating those that are replenishing.
5) Take time to get organized . . . prioritize. Plan how you use your time. Create structures and systems in your life that help you get organized.
6) Break out of solitary confinement. “Partnerships are the intentional co-mingling of talents and energies, the giving of all each partner has to offer, for the reaching of a common goal and the mutual benefit of all concerned” quoted in (Richardson, 2000).
7) Embrace change. Change is a process, not an event. Technology is one of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the last two decades. Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Learn how to use technology, rather than allowing it to use you, so that it improves your human connections, and does not replace them.
8) Practice patience. Patience is merely impatience stretched to its limits.
9) Consciously and deliberately preserve time to connect with what matters most to you. Preserve important connections. Unless you consciously and deliberately preserve time for, family dinner, lunch with a friend, Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, or free time with your spouse, your connection with whatever it is will erode. One way to put this into perspective is to calculate the number of Saturdays you have left in life. Based on the life expectancy for your gender (74 for men and 79 for women), take that number, subtract your current age, and multiply by 52. The end result is the number of Saturdays you have left in life (assuming you live to projected life expectancies)). How do you want to spend your remaining Saturdays? The more time you give away, the less you have for what matters most to you.
10) Seize the Day . . . Embrace the here and now. The greatest damage from being too busy is that it prevents people from setting their own temperature, controlling their own lives. It’s like the story of frogs in water. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, he will try to jump out. But if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and heat it up slowly, you will end up with a boiled frog. Too often we don’t realize that the temperature is rising until it’s too late. Enjoy each day as if it were your last.
You have a choice about your life. You can either continue the ways things are and hope it gets better, or you can do something about it. This will only happen if you take charge. Taking charge can mobilize you with enthusiasm and visions for a renewed YOU. It may involve risks, but don’t let the fear of risk keep you from exploring new horizons … turning dreams into realities … build a dream and the dream builds you.
Writer: Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.
Boryesenko, J. (2001). Inner peace for busy people: 52 strategies for transforming your life. Carlsbad, California: Hay House, Inc.
Hallowell, M.D., E. (2006). Crazy busy – overstretched, overbooked, and about to snap! Strategies for coping in a world gone ADD. New York, New York: Ballantine Books.
LaRoche, L. (2000). Life is short – wear your party pants: Ten simple truths that lead to an amazing life. Carlsbad, California: Hay House, Inc.
Richardson, C. (2002). Stand up for your life. New York, New York: The Free Press.
Richardson, C. (2000). Life makeovers. New York, New York: Broadway Books.
Richardson, C. (1998). Take time for your life. New York, New York: Broadway Books.